Another for the 365 Challenge. I chose prompts from the 100 Word Stories community because it always pleases in_the_blue to have activity on the community, but the letter simply could not be 100 words. I let it grow. Eventually it will join a story called The Academy Letters. Until then, I hope you like it.
Liana Mir reads, writes, and wrangles the muses from her mundane home in the Colorado Rockies and, occasionally, from the other side of the Barrier.
Story Within a Story
Story Within a Story - 508
Story Within a Story - 510
Story Within a Story - 517 W
A Letter to Fellow Historical Intern, Whom I Named Huerél
Vardin is not the same without you here to taste the rain.
A letter from one Academy Library intern to another, asking for a return to Vardin and an opinion on a proposed law by the new Queen.
Story Within a Story - 517 W
Vardin Science Fiction Fantasy
Vardin Science Fiction Fantasy
in the hand of Shilehs
Come back, come back, my rain daughter, Heurél! The Academy Library is not the same without you here to wonder at our arcane archival system and secretive historians, to pry among the records of people living and those who should not be, wondering who could be made to give up their secrets and how much trouble you can drag me into. Shopping at the markets and cooking on the small hearth is not the same without you here to wish we could have one dish for our dinner guests, both plain and kahtchen alike. You are always so full of such strange ideas, that we should consider ourselves and the householders the same when we are plain, mãenet. I miss even the strangeness of your ideas.
Remember the evenings when we would sit together around your fire in the little room over the householders where you stayed? Reading the stories for cataloguing is not the same without your husband’s voice reading them to me like a father. He would be a good father; you should have children. And it is not the same to live in my city without hearing of it through your husband’s eyes each evening, discussing with you the things he had seen and conversations he had held. It is not the same without reading of my city through an outsider’s eyes each week. I loved to read it. I learned of my own people through him and learned of myself.
Rainstorms are not the same without you throwing back your head to taste the drops drenching your face. I miss you, older sister. Come back to Vardin. Taste the rain with me and we will read stories of the past, the present, the future.
The world is a new place in wintertides. You could come up without the opening of the Barrier each Thursday, without the train or the ferry across the lake, simply step into a boat in the midst of a storm and wash up on the Vardin shore instead of the French. Of course, you may prefer not to travel in such, but you who are daughter of rain should love the way it feels to ride the storm to Vardin. I’ll never forget the way you ran through the storm instead of away. I am not like you.
You would love the way the world is now, though I resent the overcast skies that you are not here in my city, that you are far away across the sea in your own birth land, America. I wish you could stand next to me in the street when the rain streams down my face and the cool winds blow off the lake into the city, carrying the scents of winter flowers and household fires and wet stone. I wish you would walk into the library beside me and laugh as we remove our coats and our boots and scheme together how we will discern the fact from the myth from the truth in the pieces of paper that pass through our hands. Is this a story of a young woman of our households or the simple tale told to children at night in their beds? Is this word the meaningful name of a writer or simply a word told within a fictional world? You would like the spiced hot sluscheta they serve now in the gathering houses. We used to go down and drink the golden, cold sluscheta of summer, but now it is winter and the brews are colored copper and smell of cinnamon and anise.
I send you my regards. I ask your own.
We wonder here in the Port City at our new Queen. You have liked her because she allowed the kidayet, the outsiders, to discover the peninsula and all that lies behind the Barrier, and I understand the feeling. You love adventure and new cities and Port City, Vardin is certainly new to outsiders who have never stepped upon our shores, seen the horses flying on wings of radiance, and watched the mists rise over mornings from the river gardens through our city. It is not France as it should be if the world worked as it should, mundane and ordinary, if the Barrier could not part and allow the traveler to step into another world. It is new because we are not like the outsiders, but you are and I am glad of our Queen for that anyway. I have always wanted a sister.
But, sister, I wonder at our new Queen as much as any daughter or son of the households walking down our market thoroughfares or gathering in the halls of the Academy Library. We whisper one to another about what she will do. You have walked this city arm in my arm. You have seen the guardians scattered through our land and know how they run the households of all but our Queen. You know that they are kahtchen, different, even if no one will tell you why. Would you free our tongues with the stories you have read? Would I? I do not know and so I wish that you would tell me what you would do. Would you want the world to know why the plain are not the kahtchen, why they guard us and protect us and never marry into royalty? I have not read the histories that will answer this question in me.
And that is the crux of it, is it not? You and I have read the histories together, but we are plain and know so little of this land and why the horses fly and the waters sing and the skies above Vardin are bluer than the skies beyond the Barrier. We do not know what separates this world from that of the outsiders, who I do not count you among, and we do not know how we came to this land in the first place. So much of time has been lost that I wonder if we are not stumbling into danger when we invite the world into our hearts and our land and our peoples, to hear our tongues and our stories and eat our food and take it away again to share. I have heard that you wrote histories before you came here, that you kept silence when the stories were too dangerous to write down, when opening the records could reopen the pages of the worst tragedies in our histories.
If I could write this history, would the wars that tore through our households so many generations ago tear through the world of the outsiders? If we opened the mouths of our guardians to reveal how deep the differences go in Vardin, would outsiders strive to achieve the same in their own lands? These thoughts trouble me, for our Queen believes we should open our arms to embrace the kidayet, and all I can dream is of blood, blood, blood. I have seen the little girl who wandered into a secret of the guardians, into how they came to be, and, Sarah Lanning, my sister Heurél—
They could not save her.
I do not believe in the eshrai, that they are gods, but I believe in the rothnen, that they are guardians, and there is little too far beyond them to accomplish. They would lay down their lives for the mãenet within their households, for my mother, my father, for me. And I am agitated. You always said I speak too much Vardin when something bothers me, but what English words can hold this? If the fathers and mothers of my House could not save me, how could they save the outsider?
I do not believe this knowledge is good, not for those who are not of our land or our hearts. You are the latter. You are my older sister. I ask your regard. Tell me what you would do, what you would say to our Historian or our Queen, to share these stories and histories and myths and poems that passed through our hands so briefly together this summerlight—or abstain.
And I suppose I owe you this much to know, that I miss you both, you and your husband, and I keep my inquiries in the records for a position as recorder or historian for you to return. The land is blessed by your coming. Come again, my sister, and write me soon.
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